Just in Case


Disasters are devastating, no matter whether they affect one home or family or many.

Some disasters may leave little damage, and so the recovery can take a few days or weeks. But sometimes it may take months or even years for things to be fixed enough so that everyday life can go on. But the size and devastation of a disaster doesn’t determine the impact on a person or even a family.

There’s no one set of responses that is ‘right’ or ‘expected’ after a disaster. You may feel afraid, or insecure, or sad, or depressed, or angry. You may feel relief and even guilt if you and your family were less affected. You may feel a need for attention, to know exactly where your family members are at all times, and especially for hugs. You may want to talk about the event, or it may be the last thing you want to discuss. All of these are normal reactions.

What is most important is that you let people know if you’re feeling sad, depressed or very angry – or if you see signs of similar emotions in other people. The people closest to you may not see these signs or needs, especially if they are also affected by the disaster or are busily trying to rebuild. So you may have to express yourself, either with words to someone you trust – or by initiating the hugs yourself.
  • Be patient – with people, and especially children, who are upset, who are demanding or crave attention, who may be so busy cleaning up that they don’t notice your needs
  • Remember, the more normal people act, and the quicker a routine is established, the better everyone will cope
  • If you want information, ask for it – but remember that adults may be wary about providing too much detail to young people if they think they aren’t ready for it
  • Get everyone to pitch in and help with age-appropriate tasks – they’ll feel useful and it will keep them busy
  • If you think you or a friend or family member isn’t coping well, tell an adult – especially if you think professional help may be needed.
Preparing for an emergency

If you live in an area that has a higher than normal risk of being subjected to a natural disaster, you and your family should have action or disaster plans in place.

Some things for you and your family to plan for:
  • Do you know the preferred evacuation route from your house?
  • Is your vehicle full of fuel?
  • Have you bottled as much water as possible?
  • Have you checked on neighbours who are elderly or disabled?
  • Are you ready to turn off the power, gas and water mains before you leave?
  • Do you have an emergency kit ready to take with you – including mobile phones, portable radio, torch and batteries, first aid kit, medication and copies of prescriptions, non-perishable food (including for babies and pets), copies of important papers and water purification tablets?
  • Do you have an evacuation kit ready to go? (see below).
Evacuation kit

The evacuation kit includes the emergency kit (above), as well as items you and your family will need if you have to spend a night or more away from home after or during an emergency – such as a jacket and complete change of clothes for each person, toiletries and medication, pillows and blankets, money and extra food and water.

You should also know exactly where important documents such as passports and legal papers are kept, along with a few significant photographs or video footage, so you can collect them quickly. One or two special ‘comfort items’ such as a childhood teddy should also be gathered for younger family members, along with a mobile phone, tablet computer device and a book or game.


If you hear a cyclone watch or warning you should first make sure all members of your family and any neighbours are aware of the situation.

The next consideration is your house. You and your family should ensure that by the end of each October, you’ve run through the ‘cyclone checklist’ before the season begins in November. This means trimming branches, clearing gutters and checking them and roofs are secure, and storing loose garden and yard objects.

If a cyclone comes, you and your family should:
  • Monitor the Bureau of Meteorology website on your computer or phone app, or listen to a portable radio for updates
  • Gather your emergency kit and start collecting your evacuation kit
  • Bring any remaining loose items inside
  • Fill buckets and your bath with clean water
  • Tape your windows in a criss-cross fashion using strong packing tape
  • Don’t eat food that has been in floodwaters and boil tap water until supplies have been declared safe
  • Remain inside with pets until danger has passed.
During a cyclone

If a cyclone is approaching and an official evacuation order has not been issued, you may decide to shelter in your home until the cyclone passes through. If you stay at home:
  • Turn off electricity, gas and water and unplug all appliances
  • Keep your emergency kit close
  • Shelter in the strongest part of the house
  • If the cyclone hits and your house begins to break up, move under a strong table or bench or under a heavy mattress
  • BEWARE THE CALM EYE OF THE CYCLONE. Stay inside until you have received official advice that it is safe to go outside.
If an official evacuation order is issued then you and your family must leave your home immediately.

Turn off all electricity, gas and water, unplug all appliances and lock your doors. Make sure everyone is wearing strong shoes and clothes, grab your evacuation kit and commence your evacuation plan.

After a cyclone

Do not move until you’re told via the radio, phone or website that it is safe. If you can return home, use only recommended routes – and only venture elsewhere to check on others.


Preparing for a flood requires monitoring of the Bureau of Meteorology website or phone app, or listening to radio updates. Early activity can include moving large and valuable items to friends’ properties on higher ground, raising other items in your home, packing the car with your evacuation kit, bedding and extra water and alerting neighbours.

If you have items that your family may use to prevent property damage, collect them in a suitable place.

If you must evacuate, ensure each person has warm clothes, spare shoes and blankets in the car and is wearing a rain jacket. Empty freezers and refrigerators, leave doors open, and turn off power, water and gas.

Whether you leave or stay, put sandbags in the toilet bowl and over all drain holes to prevent sewage backflow. Lock the house, take keys, and drive to a safe area using recommended routes.

NEVER drive in or wade into water of unknown depth and current, and NEVER allow children or pets to play in or near floodwaters, waterways and pipes, in case of sudden flooding.

Don’t eat food that has been in floodwaters and boil tap water until supplies have been declared safe.

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